Saturday, July 11, 2009

30th anniversary

In another week, it'll be the 30th anniversary of my 29th year.

I started celebrating a month in advance. By getting essentials: new shoes and underwear. By indulging in yummy guilty pleasures: fried chicken sandwich from Bakesale Betty's, barbeque ribs from Bo's BBQ, crunchy Cheetos and Haagen-Dazs' dulce de leche. No - not all in one sitting!

I've treated myself to more quilting stuff: books and fabric. And thread! My quest for thread led me to Superior Threads. Threw in the Home Machine Quilting Sampler Set to my basic four-spool-order of blacks, white and water soluble threads. That arrived so quickly and oooo-weee! What a luscious riot of colors! And what fun I'll have with these.

Sunday I'm going to a production of Wicked and taking the Monday off from work. After that it'll be back to (more austere) business as usual.

Another year and I will no longer be able to say I'm 50-something. I feel old and yet still young at the same time. I really can't complain. As long as I still feel young some ways some days, it's all good!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Building blocks

Playing with my ready-made log cabin blocks, I considered combinations of the selected stash fabrics - shown previously here – for borders and bindings. What worked alone with the block did not mean it'd play well with others.

This combination just didn't look very exciting: Yech! to this combination:
So I started with a process of elimination because what didn't work was more obvious. After that, it was a matter of nuance. These are my selections: If I stand far back enough, the print mooshes into a color. But unlike solids, up closer, I must deal with the visual texture and scale. After several more similar exercises maybe this will get easier.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The front garden

When I'm not in the studio, you might find me in the garden.

When I moved into this fixer upper in 2000, it needed fixing both inside and outside. I took on the responsibility of garden planning and plantings. Gone now is the old camellia that dropped thousands of tiny blooms and required many hours of pickup. Gone now is the weedy Bermuda grass lawn.

Here are photos of what it looked like in 2006 and what it looks like now:

I love the way this part of my front yard turned out. The fresh smell of lemon verbena and resinous smell of Russian sage. Feather reed grass dancing with the breeze. Textures and colors galore: spiky orange and green libertia, furry red kangaroo paws, bronzy red flax, round bright yellow-green leaves of the smoke tree, fuzzy gray-green leaves and fuzzy purple flower plumes of Russian sage, and tall buff seed heads of the reed grass.

If I'm not down in the studio, I can look out the window at this.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Test prints

Half the work is done. I've sewn the sets together, but someone else put together the combinations in these ready-made log cabin blocks. Now my challenge is to add more - which goes toward my goal of getting comfortable with prints. Only way to get there is by doing, seeing, editing. I've whittled down the selections from my stash to these: Do they work? I think so.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Curatorial experience

In June EBHQ had quilts hung at the Lakeview branch of the Oakland library. I helped curate – my first experience. And wrote about it for the guild newsletter:

Tale from a Virgin Curator

cu•rate (kyoor′-āt′) To act as a curator – as a person in charge of an exhibition.

Like a student waving her hand at the teacher because she finally knows the answer, I jumped in when Jennie Aldrich asked for volunteer curators for the Oakland Lakeview Library show. So did Sandy Ellison and Pati Fried. Since we three volunteers were without curatorial experience, we were the students and Jennie our teacher.

Unlike an institution like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, we did not have a cadre of curatorial assistants. We did it all.

First task was to collect and store the quilts. Pati and Sandy manned a table at the May general meeting to collect quilts. Both of them and Jennie were especially persuasive convincing others to participate. Responsibilities included getting the forms completed and signed, checking for a label and a hanging sleeve, and keeping track of all the quilts collected.

A week before the exhibition, the four of us met to review the submissions and lay out the display. We reviewed all the quilts and started grouping them. Some quilts just sung with one another and begged to be together. We were challenged to identify specific wall locations to fit each group. Thankfully, Jennie had measurements of the display spaces. Sometimes we had to shift quilts around but tried to create a cohesive visual display. In the end we found display space for all 33 quilts submitted.

Then we documented the quilts and their locations with photos and notes. Otherwise we would've been lost on the hanging date. Hanging them was only a week later but you know how that is! Before packing up the quilts, we prep them for hanging and made notes to get more supplies.

On Monday, June 1st we hung the quilts. Jennie was on the ladder and the rest of us were the ground crew. Other than a scramble halfway through the hanging, we fell into a rhythm – two to hang and two to prepare. We made a great team!

Jennie and Sandy had to leave for the EBHQ board meeting. But they left only one wall for Pati and me to finish on our own.

On the ladder, I realize how adept Jennie is at hanging. I knocked off the picture moulding hooks several times for each of the three quilts. I'm sorry, Pati! As my ground crew, she was fishing among the books stacks for the hooks that flew off. I was so close to the quilts, I couldn't see the display and depended on her help to adjust them. Going it alone would've meant getting up and down the ladder constantly. That would've saved me a gym workout, but also would've resulted in noodle thighs!

Looking around the two rooms after we were done, I took pleasure in having a role in brightening and transforming the library. I hope you'll have a chance to visit this library and see the quilts whether you have one hanging there or not.

A lot of credit goes to Jennie for the curatorial lessons. What I learned was well worth the few hours I put in. My three co-curators were all fantastic and cooperative co-workers. And I got close looks at all the quilts. What a fabulous experience all around!

How about you - would you like to curate a show? Perhaps your very own show someday? Start small, start with experienced help, and start here. Volunteer for the Oakland Lakeview Library exhibition next time. Or some other EBHQ show. It'll be an excellent opportunity.

Ellen who's no longer a virgin curator

Fav haunt

Every teacher's first stop and every artist's second home. The East Bay Center for Creative Reuse is a non-profit store that depends on donations. I never know what I'll find there. I found half-inch thick foam core boards for my design wall there. And added many fabrics to my stash.

A recent find were two sets of four log cabin blocks: I'd sewn them together. Someone else did a great job of mixing prints and colors. No sense dwelling on why were they were discarded. My mission: add more. I'm auditioning additions from my stash to each set.

More finds: ikats.
They feel like fine Egyptian cotton. They'd make great quilt backs but I'm not sure I want them hidden. I don't want to cut into them either – they're so beautiful just as they are. Precious bargains.

These three ikats and some other fabrics, scraps and stuff filled a shopping basket –all for $10. Such a deal! Keeps me coming back for more! This place has become a regular haunt. The fun is in the treasure hunt.

Advantages & disadvantages

On a 3-hour drive and a weekend away, I finished two things. One birdie. He had been sewn and stuffed. All he needed was the opening in his tail sewn up. You can get the Mister Blue Bird pattern here.

One more hand appliquéd leaf. The second of the hand appliquéd leaves started in Gabrielle Swain's workshop. The first shown here a year ago. Seems like ages ago.

Being away from home has its advantages. While my other half helped his father with tree pruning, I went on a rare shopping trip.

Honey Run Quilters in Chico carries Superior Thread's King Tut cotton machine quilting thread. Though I was looking for a heavier thread, I'll give this a go. I also picked up a nifty little purse pattern. This will be a great exercise for mixing prints.

Next: Johnson Shoes for sandals. With extra wide feet and orthotics, I have an unbelievably difficult time finding good fitting shoes. I bought two pairs of sandals with fairly good support, but not usable for orthotics. Shoes are always a compromise.

At least I got some shopping done. But the disadvantage is spending money.